As we count down to Reading and Leeds, which takes place August 27-29, organiser Melvin Benn will be giving regular updates on how the preparations are going
At the moment I have to say that everything is going incredibly well with our preparation for Reading and Leeds. The weather is behaving, the headliners are behaving – and the reunited bands are behaving too!
We have a phenomenal amount of contact with the bigger bands at this point. Everybody is very much planning their shows, so my production teams are talking to theirs about sound equipment, microphones, backline, their guests and even about how many people they’re bringing for breakfast or supper. So we’ve become very close.
Inevitably, and probably like a phenomenal amount of people, it is The Libertines who I’m most looking forward to this year, and part of that is very much about how enthusiastic about being back together and playing Leeds and Reading they are.
You know – we might not ever hear from them again. That’s the thing. So few people have seen them live – very few at the festival I would imagine – and we actually don’t know whether this will turn out to be a one-off where afterwards they say, ‘That’s great guys, but we still need to be separated from each other’. Or maybe there’s more Libertines songs to record and more work to do.
I’m told that everything is fantastically harmonious, and that’s terrific. There has been a huge amount of work to get these performances on the road. Ultimately, if it results in what we hope for – which is just two fantastic sets – then all of the hard work everybody has put together really will pay off. The Libertines on great form will be a very, very big treat for everybody concerned.
In terms of the two sites, at Reading the main stage is already built, which is quite unprecedented and early compared to previous years. We’ve got all the scaffold and all that stuff already up, so that’s great.
In Leeds we’ve actually changed the position of the Main Stage this year. Essentially, in the position that it was, everybody arrived on the right hand side of the stage, so what used to happen is that it would get very busy on the right side and not quite so busy on the left.
So what we’ve done is move it 45 degrees clockwise, so that when people come into that particular field it’s straight in front of them as opposed to on their left. It’s due to go up next week, which will be exciting.
Do I get stressed about things at this point? Well obviously, after promoting this festival for so long now, it’s definitely not a pain in the arse. Reading in particular is always going to be my favourite festival.
It is obviously stressful, but at the end of the day I still view it as the best music festival in the world. How could it be anything other than a delight to be putting it together?